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Young driver repays the faith to celebrate big birthday in style

18 June 2024

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Albion Park | Albion Park Harness Racing Club | 7:18 PM


D: Dannielle Veivers
D: Pete McMullen

By Jordan Gerrans

The majority of teenagers celebrate their 18th birthday with a big party and a few quiet refreshments.

For Queensland newcomer Jack Chapple, he had a party, of sorts, but it was a little different to many around his age.

The promising young reinsman celebrated the special birthday milestone with his first victory in the sulky since relocating to the Sunshine State a fortnight ago.

He did so driving for his new boss Grant Dixon in the bike behind We Always Have Faith on Friday evening.

With city drives the following day back at headquarters, the NSW native could not even mark the occasion with a drink or two.

“It was great to get the first win up here on my birthday – it worked out well,” the teenager said.

"By the time we got home from the races it was late so I headed to bed and got up early again on the Saturday.”

The voice of harness racing in Queensland Chris Barsby was quick to remark about Chapple’s age on Friday.

“Here is a big birthday, Jack Chapple and We Always Have Faith – 18 years young and he scores,” Barsby said in the call.

Jack Chapple was all smiles after Friday's win.

“He might be able to celebrate with a cool one after that – responsibly.”

The youngster has been driving since the 2022 campaign and now has 53 winners to his name.

The horseman has spent time living and working at Tamworth and Bathurst earlier in his career and hails from a harness racing family.

Chapple picked up regular opportunities on race day last week before breaking through behind the Dixon-prepared pacer.

“I always wanted to make an impression pretty quick when I moved up here and to do it on a Friday night on a quality horse, it was really good,” he said.

“We drew two on the back line and I was able to follow through at the start to land in the one out, out back trail.

“There was a bit of speed on early, which was always going to help us.

“I eased him out three-wide at the 400 metre mark and he came down the outside and proved too strong.

Jack Chapple in the bike behind We Always Have Faith.

“It worked out perfect for him and he got a nice soft trip and he was able to finish over the top of them.”

With the likes of champion Leap To Fame in his barn at the moment, Chapple thinks the Dixon stable – headed by Grant and wife Trista – is the perfect place to further learn his trade.

Speaking on Monday morning while at the Dixons’ property, Chapple says he is grateful for the opportunities he gets even at track work in the morning, such is the high level of quality in their team.

“I was down at Bathurst with Bernie Hewitt for about 18 months and Grant reached out and offered me a job,” Chapple said.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to gain more knowledge of a different trainer while I was young.

“Up here in Queensland you can race almost every day of the week and get an endless amount of drives if they are offered to you.

Grant and Trista Dixon with champion Leap To Fame.

“I am loving it so far; I have settled in well as Grant and Trista are both great to work for, I am really enjoying it.

“Before every race Grant and I will go through the form and all those things – he has been really good in that way to help me with my driving.”

The up-and-coming reinsman had a handful of metropolitan drives in NSW before relocating north and says he plans to remain for the foreseeable future in the Sunshine State.

With his first winner now under his belt, Chapple is keen to grab his second at Albion Park on Tuesday.

Chris Frisby has booked him for the assignment on Our Uncle Nev over the mile.

“He has been racing well without much luck,” the young reinsman said of Our Uncle Nev.

“If he gets the right run then he should be in the finish for sure.”